Sunday, July 13, 2014

Illinois Lawmakers intervene in teacher licensing : Tribune investigation finds nearly 100 cases of legislators trying to speed up process or change its results

The Chicago Tribune reports:
State lawmakers have intervened repeatedly in Illinois' teacher licensing process, going to bat in some cases for candidates who did not meet state requirements and applicants with criminal pasts as well as for relatives, donors and constituents, a Tribune investigation revealed.

The newspaper found nearly 100 cases in the past five years in which lawmakers got involved in the system that determines who can work as classroom aides, teachers and school administrators or hold other jobs.

The cases are outlined in hundreds of pages of documents and email exchanges obtained by the newspaper, dating to 2009, when House Speaker Michael Madigan's office helped push a young woman's licensing case to the head of the line.

Her dad, a Chicago lawyer who had previously donated to Madigan, wrote a letter asking the speaker to help expedite the license.

A number of the inquiries were on behalf of constituents trying to speed up the process. Some lawmakers defended the practice as good service for their districts, though critics say it's unfair to the would-be educators who wait their turn in line and aren't being served while the politicians' cases are addressed.
Public education is political education: after all politicians are handing out the money. It's really time to separate education from state.